The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) supported the Kobane Health Administration in implementing a nine-day measles vaccination campaign in the Kobane canton of northern Syria in August.
Vaccinations and other medical services in Kobane have been severely disrupted for more than a year, increasing the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases among people returning to the area.
"We are concerned about outbreaks of measles, polio, pertussis (whooping cough), and water and hygiene-related infections such as typhoid, hepatitis A and E, due to the prolonged interruption to routine vaccination services and the damage to the health, water, and sanitation infrastructure," said Vanessa Cramond, MSF medical emergency manager.
The campaign took place in four locations in Kobane town to provide easy access to vaccination sites for residents. The Kobane Health Administration, in cooperation with MSF teams, provided measles vaccination and vitamin A for children between six months and five years of age. The campaign started on August 18 and lasted for six days in town, followed by three days in four rural locations in the canton. The teams vaccinated 3,410 children in Kobane town and 2,366 in the surrounding villages.
Cases of measles have been consistently reported across northern Syria over the course of the conflict. A vaccine coverage survey done by MSF in Kobane in June 2015 showed that only 17 percent of children were fully vaccinated.
MSF has worked alongside the Kobane Health Administration since early March 2015 to reestablish basic health facilities, provide outpatient health services, reestablish vaccination services, and create psychosocial support programs. Water purification tablets and jerry cans were also distributed to approximately 4,000 households in cooperation with the local community.